Analyst Thinks Disney Should ‘Trade’ Hulu to Comcast for Additional Marvel Rights; What Else Could it Swap Hulu For?
Remember elementary school? Every day, the cafeteria turned into a variable stock market exchange, with kids proposing swaps of carrots for cookies and sandwiches for chicken nuggets. But big business isn’t done that way, is it?
It could be if Citi analyst Jason Bazinet has his way. According to The Wrap, Bazinet thinks Disney should propose its own lunchroom swap with Comcast, trading the 67% of Hulu that Disney currently owns for the distribution rights to two Marvel comics characters that Comcast now holds: Hulk and Namor.
The proposed exchange comes at a time of marked uncertainty for Hulu. Disney became the majority shareholder in the company in 2019 when it purchased most of Fox’s entertainment assets. Comcast has held the other 33% of the company ever since and must sell it to Disney if Disney chooses to buy it before 2024. While this would never be a two-characters for one streaming service trade, and many more financial considerations would have to be made, the headlines of the proposal are interesting nevertheless.
The dialogue between the two sides over the transaction has been fraught at times, and Disney may no longer be in a financial position to buy the rest of Hulu. Thanks to quarterly deficits from its streaming segment that still exceed $1 billion, Disney CEO Bob Iger recently confirmed the company is open to all possibilities to curb losses and enhance revenue, including selling its 67% stake in Hulu.
Bazinet’s trade would unite Hulu under the 100% ownership of Comcast. It would also allow Disney to develop movies solely based on Hulk and Namor, without the risk of seeing them sent to Peacock to stream instead of Disney+. Disney currently has the right to use Hulk and Namor in movies, but only as secondary characters, not as the primary focus of their own stories. That explains how Namor was recently able to appear in “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” and why Hulk has been appearing in “Avengers” movies for over a decade.
But if Disney is going to end up trading away Hulu, at least in part, instead of selling it completely for cash, what other possibilities are there? Fox executives recently indicated the company was looking to make a few major acquisitions. Fox used to own part of Hulu and still sends primetime FOX shows to stream there next day, making it a definite possibility as a trading partner. Would it potentially be interested in trading Hulu for Tubi? That would give Fox a ready-made general entertainment subscription video-on-demand service, and give Disney a free ad-supported video-on-demand service. In both cases, each company would be getting a type of streaming video service it does not currently have.
A swap with Paramount might also make sense. If Paramount were to acquire Hulu from Disney in exchange for, say, the rights to Nickelodeon and all its properties, it could fold Hulu and Paramount+ together and instantly have one of the premier general entertainment streamers in the industry, rivaling even HBO Max. Nickelodeon would be a natural fit for Disney, which could start streaming shows like “Hey, Arnold!” and “Rugrats” on Disney+ immediately.
Ultimately it’s unlikely that Disney will end up trading an asset like Hulu away, especially considering the financial straits it is in. It will probably sell Hulu for cash, but it’s still fun to theorize what could happen if the House of Mouse decides to entertain more out-of-the-box solutions as well.
Hulu is a video streaming service that gives access to thousands of full seasons of exclusive series, hit movies, kids shows, and Hulu Originals like “Only Murders in the Building,” and “The Handmaid’s Tale.”
It offers a good selection of current TV shows and its ad-supported tier is cheaper than both Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. You will be able to watch most shows from networks like ABC and Fox, and cable channels like FXX, FXM, HGTV, and more.
The service has a Limited Commercials plan for $7.99 a month, or you can upgrade to their No Ads plan for $14.99 a month. For $69.99 a month, you can get Hulu Live TV from major cable channels, live locals and regional sports networks.